Bpishue

Sound Transit could build more light rail without raising regressive taxes

May 6, 2015 in Blog

Sound Transit’s demands for new taxing authority have become a sticking point in the debate in the legislature over a new transportation package.  Sound Transit officials want an estimated $15 billion in new taxing authority.  They want a 0.5% increase in Sound Transit’s sales tax authority, to a total of 1.4% (which would bring the total sales tax rate in Seattle to 10.1%), a 0.8% increase in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax authority to a total of 1.1%, and a property tax increase of .25 per $1,000 of assessed value ($100/year on a $400,000 house).

Public officials reduce road and highway access, and then claim “We’re running out of roads” to promote light rail

April 30, 2015 in Blog

As Sound Transit officials prepare to take over the center lanes of I-90, their newest online advertisement asks the question, “What’s to do when we’re running out of roads?”(Their edited clip was originally from a video promoting highway building.) Unsurprisingly, their answer is to build light rail.

Day one of the special session: Where do the state House and Senate differ on a transportation package?

April 29, 2015 in Blog

Over the past three years, state lawmakers have sparred over a transportation package that would raise the gas tax and other driver-related fees to build and maintain roads and highways, spend more on transit and fund the Washington State Patrol. In 2013, the state House passed a transportation package that included the controversial Columbia River Crossing project and would have directed state money to local transit operations. The Senate decided against voting on the proposal.

Building light rail is not an effective way to reduce traffic congestion

April 17, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

Insider Project Labor Agreements likely to inflate construction costs on Seattle public projects

April 10, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this year the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 124690, forcing the use of costly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and “Priority Hire” on public projects of $5 million or more. The new rule hurts the public interest because it inflates project costs; studies show PLAs artificially boost project costs by 12% to 18%. PLAs eliminate competitive bidding, pushing labor costs higher than normal market wages.

Building more light rail is not an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions

April 8, 2015 in Blog

Three elected officials serving on Sound Transit’s Board recently penned an editorial in The Seattle Times calling for a $15 billion increase in regressive taxes to build more light rail. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Everett City Councilmember Paul Roberts and Redmond Mayor John Marchione argue that building light rail is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve mobility.

Senate releases transportation budget proposal yesterday, holds public hearings today

April 1, 2015 in Blog

The state Senate just released their transportation budget proposal yesterday. You can find the summary here. Hopefully you can read it before the public hearing at 3:30pm today.

The state House released their transportation budget proposal two days ago.

Some highlights from a quick review:

Recent Transportation Commission decision on I-405 HOT lanes would not maximize traffic throughput

March 20, 2015 in Blog

Earlier this week, the State Transportation Commission approved a plan to toll Interstate 405 from Bellevue to Lynnwood. They plan to repurpose both an existing auxiliary lane, currently in operation as a general purpose lane between Bellevue and 124th Street but being extended to SR522, and the HOV lane from Bellevue to Lynnwood and designating both as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The HOT lanes would allow free access to carpools with at least three people in the peak periods and will be tolled based on congestion in the adjacent general purpose lanes.

Puget Sound Regional Council data reveals transit does not relieve traffic congestion

March 13, 2015 in Blog

An increase in transit use does not reduce traffic congestion, according to new information provided by the Puget Sound Regional Council. According to the PSRC report, transit agencies across the Puget Sound region logged an 11% boost in ridership between 2010 and 2014, yet delay on the region’s freeways increased a whopping 52% in the same time period.

See the PSRC report, “Stuck in Traffic: 2015 Report,” here.

C-Tran should be more accountable to voters

February 26, 2015 in Blog

Senate Bill 5187 would restrict Clark County’s transit agency, C-Tran, from allocating time and money to plan light rail projects that have already been rejected by voters. Only if voters approve the plan at a later date would C-Tran be allowed to devote resources toward light rail.

Under Senate Bill 5992, saving money on ferries would be difficult

February 19, 2015 in Blog

Senate Bill 5992 is one of eight transportation package reform bills introduced in the state Senate last week. The goal of the reform bill is to reduce the cost of ferries by introducing an open bidding procurement model similar to the proven method that has benefited British Columbian taxpayers.

Vanpools continue to be cost-efficient for commuters (and local transit agencies)

February 13, 2015 in Blog

King County Metro Transit’s vanpool program has finally become operationally self-sufficient. According to the National Transit Database, King County Metro’s vanpool program cost $10,658,554 to operate in 2013. Yet vanpool revenues more than made up for that – users paid about $11.5 million.

State Senators release transportation tax proposal

February 12, 2015 in Blog

State Senators Curtis King (R-Yakima), Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) held a press conference today to unveil their plan to pay for more transportation projects.

The bills and balance sheet can be found, here:

http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2015/st1517p.asp

House Bill 1939 would establish congestion relief as a goal of transportation policy

February 10, 2015 in Blog

Congestion relief is not a priority when state officials spend transportation dollars, but that may soon change. House Bill 1939 would re-establish congestion relief as a transportation policy goal, creating an official relationship between spending and relieving traffic congestion.

Prior to 2007, lawmakers had implemented very specific performance measures that tied spending to measurable benchmarks to provide congestion relief. They were:

Repealing the build-in-Washington-only law would get the state a brand-new ferry for free

February 9, 2015 in Blog

It may be the best deal state officials choose to pass up this session, buy two ferries and get one free. It all depends on whether state lawmakers want to leave money on the table when it comes to ferry purchases. According to the Washington State Auditor, Washington taxpayers pay some of the highest costs in the nation to build ferries.